In ideal situations, pop-up campers are quite sturdy. But they can sway a bit or even fall over if not towed or set up correctly and securely. So what could cause a camper to tip over, and how can you prevent it from happening?
A pop-up camper can tip over. It could tip over because of improper weight distribution, setting up on uneven ground, high-speed winds, and improper towing. It’s crucial to know how to correctly set up and haul a pop-up camper before taking it on the road to prevent it from tipping.
To learn more about keeping your camper upright, keep reading. We’ll cover all the potential reasons why your camper could tip over, how to prevent tipping incidents, and what you should do if your camper does happen to fall over.
Reasons a Pop-Up Camper Might Tip Over
Pop-up campers are a wonderfully low-cost alternative to more expensive RVs, giving you the freedom to travel wherever you’d like on a budget.
Many potential factors can cause a pop-up camper to tip over, whether it’s stationary or towed from behind your primary vehicle.
The leading causes include the following:
- Setting up the camper on uneven ground. Never unhitch your camper from your vehicle until you’ve found a spot on even ground. You may need to place wooden planks or concrete blocks underneath one or more of the camper’s wheels if you can’t find a level surface. Check your camper’s spirit levels before unhitching and settling on a spot. You can also use a bubble level to help you set it perfectly flat.
- Poor weight distribution. Don’t put too much gear on any one side of your camper, as this can offset its weight distribution and make it prone to tipping.
- High winds or inclement weather. High-speed winds combined with rain, snow, or hail can cause your pop-up camper to sway and eventually tip over. Try to keep an eye on your local weather forecast before setting out on your travels.
- Driving too fast. Keep in mind that speed limits for RVs and hauling trailers are usually lower than speed limits for standard vehicles. Pop-up campers are especially prone to tipping if you haul them at high speeds, as they are more lightweight than standard campers.
- Jackknifing/Fishtailing. Avoid making sharp turns while hauling your camper, as this can offset its center of gravity and cause it to fall over. Reckless driving while towing even a small trailer can be especially hazardous on highways and other populated roadways.
- Improper towing capacity. Always make sure your vehicle’s towing capacity is well over the weight of your camper. If your vehicle struggles while hauling your camper, it could become unstable and fall over.
Next, we’ll cover how to haul and set up your camper so that it doesn’t tip over while keeping the above precautions in mind.
Preparing, Hauling, and Setting Up Your Camper Properly
You’ll need to practice setting up your camper a few times before you ever take it out on the road to your eventual travel destinations. Be sure to follow your camper’s user manual and only unhitch it from your vehicle once you’re sure it’s on even ground and the camper’s spirit level readings are within an acceptable range.
When hauling your pop-up camper to a campsite or other area, make sure your vehicle’s hauling capacity can handle the camper’s weight.
Drive safely and avoid making sharp turns or accelerating too quickly, especially if the weather is particularly windy and rainy. Most campers tend to tip during hauling and not while stationary, so safe driving is essential.
Once you’ve reached your destination, check once more that your chosen spot is on level ground.
Get in the habit of doing this every time you move your camper to a new location, as another primary cause of pop-up campers tipping over is setting up on the uneven or hilly ground.
Before unhitching your camper, the first thing you’ll need to do is slowly lower the tongue jack to the ground. Be sure any electrical cables, ropes, chains, or other attachments are safely removed and out of your way before fully unhitching the camper from your vehicle.
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If possible, have someone help you and keep an eye on the jack while you unhitch the camper.
Check your spirit levels one final time before partially lowering your camper’s stabilizer jacks, keeping them slightly raised off of the ground until you’ve completely popped out the camper. Once everything is opened up, you can lower the jacks to meet the ground.
Make sure they’re nice and tight before setting up anything on the inside of your camper.
Signs Your Pop-Up Camper Is About To Tip Over
There are several telltale signs your camper is about to fall over. In many cases, it’ll be too late to act, so you’ll need to move quickly and focus on mitigating any damage from the fall.
The main signs your camper is about to tip are:
- Unusual sounds coming from the camper. Groaning, creaking, and cracking sounds are common as the camper begins to tip.
- Shaking or swaying from the camper. You’ll most likely be able to see or feel the camper start to waver back and forth as it struggles to right itself.
- Sounds coming from your vehicle or the hitch. The strain a tipping camper will put on your hauling vehicle will be clearly audible and visible. You’ll probably be able to feel your vehicle shaking or swaying, too.
If the camper is already in the process of falling over, be sure to evacuate if you’re inside it. If you’re still on the road and hauling the camper, try to pull over away from other drivers if possible.
What To Do After Tipping
So your pop-up camper has tipped over. Whether you’re on the road or at the campsite, you’ll need to take a few necessary measures for your safety and to preserve the condition of your camper (or potentially repair it later).
If you’re inside the camper, exit it immediately once you’ve assessed any physical injuries and ensured the camper is now stationary. Get any other passengers, children, and pets out to safety.
However, if you were hauling the camper before it started to tip over, pull over if possible, and put on your emergency flashers.
Get far away from the camper, as you don’t want to be next to it if an electrical fire starts. Other parts of the camper could also be unstable. Call the police and give them a statement if necessary, particularly if you’re on the road and have hit any other drivers.
If you’ve sustained any injuries, be sure to get medical attention as soon as possible. Get the camper towed away somewhere safe so you can assess the damage later and contact a professional for any necessary repairs.
Always try to determine the cause of the fall so you can prevent it from happening again in the future.
Unfortunately, pop-up campers can potentially tip over if you aren’t careful during every step of the hauling and set-up process. However, if you follow your camper’s user manual, haul it properly, and set it up safely, you shouldn’t encounter any issues.
Avoid taking out your camper in inclement weather whenever possible.
If your camper has tipped over, don’t panic; get to safety and assess any injuries or damages accordingly. Get the camper towed away and try to figure out what went wrong so you can prevent any similar incidents later.